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An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Night Sky
 

Enjoy the starry night skies
Be a considerate neighbor. Reduce nighttime glare. Shield your outside lights downward. Let the stars light up the night.

February 2014 night sky

—Charlie Christmann

Help keep our sky dark

The weather is warmer this winter than normal, and the winter night sky is calling your name. If you can get away from the bright lights of the big city, and away from local sources of light, the sky will be full of stars and the Milky Way. Unfortunately, we are losing our night sky, even in rural areas such as Placitas. More and more, I see porch lights and spotlights blasting photons everywhere, wasted light that pollutes our view of the stars and runs up electric bills. Even worse is when those lights are not properly covered and intrude into neighboring homes and up into the sky.

I’m sure this has happened more than once in our rural communities: “Your neighbors have installed a new light on their property. It is the dreaded unshielded fixture that casts a bright light with no boundaries and too much glare. The light trespass from this type of fixture produces light pollution and energy waste. Their new fixture is lighting up your yard or shining into your home, maybe even illuminating your bedroom and disrupting your sleep.” —International Dark-Sky Association

Here are some friendly tips from the International Dark-Sky Association (www.darksky.org) to help keep your lights from polluting the sky and annoying your neighbors. First, use properly covered lights that shine the light onto the ground where you actually want some light. The covers will help direct more light where you want it and keep it from places you don’t need it. A good rule of thumb is to stand at your property’s edge. If you can see the light source—the actual bulb—you are not properly controlling your lights.

Finally, think about not using floodlights at all. They don’t call them flood lights for no reason.

February missed something

Someone shortchanged February on its number of days. Even on Leap Years, it still has fewer days than any other month of the year. In olden days, February did not even exist.

The earliest calendars followed the lunar cycle of 29.5 days closely with alternating months of 29 and thirty days. During the time of Rome’s founding, Emperor Romulus’s (753 to 716 BC) calendar had ten months with thirty or 31 days. His successor, Numa Pompilius (715 to 673 BC) added two more months to the calendar now called January and February. But to try and keep sync with the lunar cycle, February was shortened even more to 24 or 25 days. Thanks to February being a day-and-a-half shorter than the lunar cycle, and a New Moon on January 31, February 2014 has no New Moon. The next New Moon occurs at 2:00 a.m., on March 1.


Monthly meeting of the Rio Rancho Astronomical Society

Roxanne Bebee Blatz

On February 7, the Rio Rancho Astronomical Society will host its monthly meeting and stargaze at the Rainbow Park Observatory at 301 Southern Boulevard, SE, in Rio Rancho. Parking is available in front of Rainbow Pool. The observatory is located behind Rainbow Pool. The meeting will start at 7:00 p.m. and a public stargaze will follow—weather permitting. Telescopes provided by members of the Rio Rancho Astronomical Society will show views of Jupiter as well as various nebula, star clusters, and galaxies. It is advised to dress warmly as the weather may be cold.

For more information, visit our website at www.rrastro.org or call 220-5492.

 
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